DMX did NOT OWN his Masters – What does it mean for The Culture #BlackOwned

Apr 15, 2021
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DMX’s name is already dragged through the mud with his 15 children and interviews from his Baby Mamas.

My love-hate relationship with the popular Social Media platform Twitter started when we were put in a position to be exposed to the “private” conversations and public jokes from young staff members or “hip hop writers”. Their conversations would be the type that is kept locked away safely in Media’s corridors. A very young “hip hop journalist” cracked a joke about DMX years ago (while the publication he worked for was proudly advertised in his profile description). It was very funny to him to stare at a derelict X who used to be the greatest rapper alive in the 90’s. His fall from grace was somehow worthy of his lack of credential, except knowing the right people in the industry to be put in a position of authority above those he would write articles about. If the subject is no longer a cash cow, open season it is! This is how far it goes when you do not protect your OG, your elders and by extension cannot be looked up by your younger generation. They have to bow down, with you, to these authoritative voices who can affect your ability to ever do business or access exposures if you misbehave. But there is no conspiracy in giving them the undisputed authority to fund or cut funding for what they decide is “IT”.  


Michael Jackson, the greatest entertainer alive (if mainstream media ever decide him to be remembered as such) has left a $8 million per year fund to his children and an estimated $100 million to his family. His family is not known to be in charge of his estate, having to go through court decisions to have access to any additional funds or rights. Sony Music Entertainment entered a $250 million deal with Michal Jackson’s estate for the rights to distribute his recordings over the course of seven years. This deal allows them to get royalties from music streaming services and radio stations that play the songs from the “Thriller” catalogue.  


After Lifetime broadcasted the documentary series “Surviving R Kelly”, R Kelly’s songs generated more than 4 million on-demand streams in the United States, an increase of 116% according to Billboard. “Leaving Netherland” by HBO detailing the accounts of two men who alleged having been abused as boys by Michael Jackson led to radio stations removing any songs from Michael Jackson from the air. Michael Jackson’s estate is headed by his former attorney. Nina Simone, who died in 2003, has left behind her now late ex-husband claiming some ownership of her recordings upon divorce in 1972. She also left opportunities for lawsuits between her attorney working out a deal for himself where he was assigned 40% of her rights for works he <<recovered>>. Warner Bros had included her song “Just in Time” in a movie and attracted a copyright infringement lawsuit. Sony Music fought her estate for an agreement with the singer and her former lawyer.
It is a very chilling and scary idea that the attorney or accountant you are working today with will be the person hovering over your assets and legacy. 

Earl Simmons – Dark Man X

DMX’s name is already dragged through the mud with his 15 children and interviews from his Baby Mamas. The ones who were already milking his name while alive are running their mouth on overdrive, compensating for an inheritance that might not be greater than the media coverage (and free advertising for their current ventures) they are getting from his passing. A rumour that Jay-Z would save the day and buy his Masters has been shutted down by his family. Whoever is owning his masters will be in the powerful position to decide how much pity funds will be gifted to his children, so as to not be too loud with who are the real beneficiary of DMX’s amazing songs and catalogue. Advertising the fact that your Dad or Mom are paying your lifestyle thanks to DMX’s legacy is the secret that would be best kept as a secret. The life of DMX was a testimony of hardship, of love for the street and Black people, of authenticity. What advertisings will be authorised to boast the “Ruff Ryder’s anthem”? Which movie will vulgarise the song “X Gon’ Give It To Ya”? The line between appropriation and homage is now drawn by a group of people that DMX eloquently described in his spoken words as: The Industry. DMX not owning his masters is heartbreaking, however things unfold. Of all people, he was for his people: he belonged to US. We Love You, Dark Man X. And we are ready to show disrespect for each time disrespect will be shown to you. Dogs for life! 


DMX – The Industry


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BY: Sylvaine FRANCIS 
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